Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan has said there are “irrefutable” points in South Africa’s case against Israel for genocide in the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
South Africa says the scale of the deaths and crisis from the Israeli military campaign against Hamas in Gaza meets the threshold of genocide under international law.
Israeli officials have said the nation will defend itself before the United Nations’ top court against the charges.
Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan noted that the World Health Organisation had said Gaza is facing “catastrophic levels of food insecurity”, with the risk of famine “increasing each day”.
He agreed with the Office of the UN Human Rights Commissioner that the international community has an obligation to prevent genocide and immediately consider all diplomatic, political and economic measures to that end.
Mr Ryan said Ireland had played a “strong role” within the UN on the matter.
Ireland’s main opposition parties, including Sinn Féin, Labour and the Social Democrats, have called on the Government to endorse South Africa’s action.
However, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the Government does not intend to join the case, saying there is a need to “be very careful” in defining genocide.
Mr Varadkar said: “I would be a little bit uncomfortable about accusing Israel, a Jewish state, of genocide given the fact that six million Jews – over half the population of Jews in Europe – were killed.
“I would just think we need to be a little bit careful about using words like that unless we’re absolutely convinced that they’re the appropriate ones.”
He said Ireland was taking other actions, such as requesting in December a review of the EU-Israel trade agreement to see if it had breached the human rights clause, and working with other European countries on a meaningful decision on the recognition of Palestine.
Under the Genocide Convention, genocide is defined as acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.
This includes killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Mr Ryan also said Irish people have consistently stood up for the rights of Palestinian people.
Speaking in Sallins, Co Kildare, he said: “Now, more than ever, we stand up for their rights – for self determination but also for an immediate end to the actions the Israeli government and military are taking which are putting those Palestinian people in Gaza at risk of immediate starvation.
“The court case is one of standing effectively first between South Africa and Israel, and there are only two parties to that. But in terms of where we stand, in my mind, it has to be for the basic human rights of the Palestinian people which are being wholesale infringed, in my mind, at the present time.”
He said the world will “sit in real harsh judgment” if Israel’s government does not desist its campaign.
“That does not in any way undermine the rights of Israelis to safety and deplore what happened on October 7 but the scale of what Israel is doing and the risk to the Palestinian people absolutely has to stop.”